Legal Separation in California

Legal Separation in California

Are you married for over a decade now and wants to get separated legally from your partner? You are in the perfect place to find instructions about the process of legal separation in California.

Legal separation is an easy process to follow if you have lived a day or six months in California. Getting legal separation is easy to take but managing your life after that can be worse than that.

In this article, we will shed light on the process of legal separation along with its cost and benefits.

What is Legal Separation?

In many states people get separated prior to their divorce. Legal separation is a court order that says that both the parties will live apart from each other while dividing the estates, health insurance and other benefits among themselves.

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Legal separation is different from divorce in that legal separation enables you to live with your partner under the same roof a long as both agree to it. The process to initiate legal separation is same to the process of getting a divorce in California.

Suggested Reading: Suing For Emotional Distress

Why Legal Separation; not a Divorce?

There could be multiple reasons why a couple seeks to get separated legally in California, which in brief has been mentioned inter alia: -

  • People get legal separation when they have a minor kid.
  • Legal separation allows you to remain on the other’s health insurance.
  • You could remain legally married for tax purposes provided you have irreconcilable differences.
  • There is no residency requirement for a legal separation in California.
  • However, legal separation can be gained if you have lived a single day in California.

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Issues Covered in Legal Separation?

Legal separation is seen as a preliminary step towards divorce but that is not the case. Data shows that many couples had to remarry even after filing for a legal separation.4 california legal separation

Child Custody

Child custody means the rights and responsibilities between parents for taking care of their children. When deciding the case of legal separation, the court determines what are in the best interest, safety and welfare of the child lies.

Child Visitation

It is the time given to one of the parent to visit your child. The court will decide the schedule of parent visiting. However, both parents can come to terms with each other and suggest alternative options that suit both of the parents.

10 separation not divorce

Spousal Support

In legal separation, the court can also order financial support to their spouse during separation. According to California law, court must take into account anything that is fair and equitable which includes: -

  • Earning capacity of parents
  • Contribution of to one another’s professional development
  • The ability of the supporting party to make a payment.
  • Their ages and health conditions

Division of Property

The key feature of legal separation is that the partners have to divide everything from estates to home appliances equally. Property means anything that can be purchased or sold, such as a house, a building, cars, or clothing etc., purchased jointly.

Debt Allocation

Legal separation is a good way to separate instead of divorce because it can be beneficial in various ways. Credit cards obligations, loans, personal loans, and tax obligations, all need to be divided equally.

Getting Legal Separation in California

If you are not happy with your marriage at this point and want to get a legal separation then you are in the perfect place to get into the process of how to get legally separated.

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In California law there is no difference in the process. In divorce, your marriage is terminated completely and you have no right over one another to take care of each other.

Getting back to the process of legal separation in California, it is necessary to mention here that the state “self-help” site breaks down the entire process into six easy-to-follow steps: -

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Alternatives to Legal Separation

Legal separation is viewed as an alternative to divorce in California but there are always other options for you to pursue. The most common is legally binding separation agreement.

It is necessary to note that this document is a binding contract that includes all the terms that we discussed above. For example, this agreement can include payment for rents or utilities, division of responsibility for childcare or any other issue the couple want to include.

Keep in mind that this document does not change your legal status to “separated”, but it creates a binding contract and a record of agreement that can be used in later separation or divorce.

Cost of Getting Separation

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To be very precise, the cost to file a petition and initiate the process of legal separation in California you have to pay up to $450. If there is some other paper work then you might pay additional expenses as well. If you cannot afford the cost of filing separation then you can also apply for fee voucher.

Benefits of Legal Separation

People get confused and become uncertain whether to take the option of divorce or legal separation. First thing to keep in mind is that legal separation and divorce are two similar yet different types of cases.

In the following section, we will gather data to show you the benefits of legal separation if you are living in California.

california legal separation

Religious Reasons

At times, breaking marriage is considered as violation of religious beliefs and values. Legal separation may be an option that you would like to pursue because it can help you split from your spouse while maintaining your firm religious belief.

Helps Resolve Issues

Legal Separation allows a couple to resolve issues like child custody, financial concerns such as child support and other issues with mutual consent. All issues can be resolved when both partners agree on terms. This will help you retain your marriage as well.

Health Insurance

Legal separation provides for the continuation of health insurance and other benefits including social security benefits. You cannot enjoy such benefits in the event of a divorce.

Right to Inherit

In the event of legal separation, you still retain the right to inherit from one another if you choose so. During legal separation, the court can decide that each spouse’s legal rights to property benefits are preserved.

Keep the Family Intact

Legal separation helps you keep your family intact and together. It can also help your children to adjust better to divorce.

You can Remarry

You may still have the choice to sort things out with your partner after a certain period of time and get agree to remarry. After 90 days for granting the petition for legal separation, both spouses have the right seek to reverse the legal separation and reinstate their marriage.

How long does it take to a Legal Separation?

There is no set time frame within which you get legal separation in California. The process of legal separation usually begins with the filing of petition in the court. The court decides to summon the other party immediately.

separation in californiaThe other party has 30 days to submit response to your petition. If the other party fails to submit response then the court can move further and start hearing.

In legal separation, if both parties agree to terms then the court does not take time to stop you. This process can be wind up in matter of days. However, if both parties can’t agree on terms then the court has to set date for trials.


Marriage is the most significant part of human life but sometimes things don’t go well between the partners and they have to get separated ultimately. In this brief guide, we have accumulated research-based data to show the process of legal separation in California and why you should choose legal separation instead of divorce.

You would like to take the option of legal separation due to its benefits and privileges. Getting legal separation would not cost you more than $450-$500 if you are living in California. We believe that after a thorough reading now you are able to choose the option, divorce or legal separation, which suits you well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to get legally separated in California?

In California you can get legally separated from your spouse without getting into much trouble. You can still live next to your partner or even under the same roof if both spouses agree while continuing other benefits.

How much does it cost to file for legal separation in California?

It is also less costly and even the court order your spouse to pay for the cost. Usually, in California the cost to file a petition for a legal separation is around $450-$500.

Can you live together and still be legally separated in California?

Yes, you can still live together even if you are legally separated in California. Laws in California are very flexible and it allow spouses to stay together.

How long does it take to get separated in California?

If both spouses have not lived in California then it is not possible to get legal separation in California. However, if you have lived even a single day in California then you can get legally separated. In essence, there are no residency requirements for legal separation in California.

Alice Barrett

Dedicated legal blogger unraveling complexities, simplifying legal jargon, and offering insights on crucial issues, empowering readers with legal knowledge.

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